Formula 1 news: Qatar Grand Prix conditions slammed as drivers throw up, need medical attention

Formula 1 is already the toughest test available in the intense world of motorsport.

But F1 organisers took conditions to the absolute extreme in a Qatar Grand Prix being slammed as among the most dangerous ever.

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Historically 52 drivers have died across a range of Formula 1 races, tests or other events, including 32 participating in the world championship.

Thankfully, safety standards have improved enormously since the horrific period spanning the 1950s through the 1970s, when 41 drivers lost their lives.

Since two drivers died in 1994, Austrian Roland Ratzenberger in qualifying and F1 legend Ayrton Senna during that year’s San Marino GP, only Frenchman Jules Bianchi in 2014 has died in an official F1 Grand Prix event.

That remains the case today thankfully, but drivers were counting themselves lucky at the end of an incredibly gruelling Qatar Grand Prix.

Among the 20 drivers in the field, some withdrew or were vomiting mid-race, others required help just to get out of their cars and one team even felt the need to tweet “everyone is OK” post-race.

Logan Sargeant, a 22-year-old in his first year with the Williams team, fought desperately to keep his race going on lap 41 of the 57-lap race before retiring.

His team told the rookie “there’s no shame to retire” before he came in and Williams later released a statement.

“Following Logan’s retirement from the Grand Prix, he has been assessed and cleared by the medical team on-site after suffering from intense dehydration during the race, weakened by having flu like symptoms earlier in the week,” it read.

Teammate Alex Albon was also helped from his car after the race clearly struggling, treated for what his team called “acute heat exposure” before he was cleared.

“This is the toughest race, I think, for every driver in F1 of our career, for everybody,” Charles Leclerc of Ferrari said.

“I don’t believe anyone that says it’s not.”

Temperatures in Qatar peaked at 40.6 degrees celsius during the day and were still over 30 degrees for the night-time race along with over 70 per cent humidity.

“The temperature in the cockpit started to be almost too much,” Alfa Romeo veteran Valtteri Bottas said afterwards.

“The feeling is like torture in the car. Any hotter than this would not be safe.”

As early as lap 15 of the race, Alpine driver Esteban Ocon was in trouble.

“Then I was throwing up for two laps inside the cockpit,” he said. “Then I was like, ‘s**t, that’s going to be a long race.’”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the race, ahead of Australia’s Oscar Piastri, who recorded his best F1 finish.

Both drivers were feeling the affects afterwards, while Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll said he was “passing out” and suffering from blurred vision.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “These temperatures – everything goes blurry. The last 25-30 laps it’s just blurry in the high-speed corners.

“Blood pressure dropping, just passing out, basically, in the high-speed corners with high loaded G-forces. The kerbs are now painted because they’re worried about punctures.

“I couldn’t see where I was going because I was passing out. I was fading in and out. The temperature was too much.”

Among other efforts from drivers to somehow stay cool in the oppressive conditions, George Russell and Daniel Ricciardo’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda opened their visors to try to improve airflow.

It backfired on Tsunoda, who said sand then blew into his eyes.

Not ideal when driving at upwards of 340 kilometres per hour.

Ocon, who like most drivers prides himself on his fitness, was shocked by the debilitating conditions.

“I can normally do two race distances, even in Singapore,” he said. “Physically, like muscle-wise and cardio-wise, I’m always fine.

“I was not expecting for the race to be that hard.”

He also gave an insight into the mind of a Formula 1 driver when he was asked if retirement was an option for him as he threw up on himself.

“It’s not an option, retiring,” he said. “I was never going to do that.

“You need to kill me to retire.”

– with AFP

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